Frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine.

Seasonal changes are upon us, and so is flu season … for everyone! Let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions patients have.

What is the flu vaccine?

This vaccine helps to protect you or your child against influenza (flu), particularly in people who run
a high risk of associated complications.
When a person is given the vaccine, the immune system (the body's natural defence system) will
produce its own protection (antibodies) against the disease. None of the ingredients in the vaccine
can cause flu.

Flu is a viral infection that can spread rapidly and is caused by different types of strains that can
change every year, as a result the vaccine might need to get repeated annually.

The greatest risk of catching flu is during the colder months between April and August. If you missed
getting a vaccine in the autumn, it is still sensible to be vaccinated up until the spring since you or
your child runs the risk of catching flu until then. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best
time to be vaccinated.

The incubation period for flu is a few days, so if you or your child are exposed to flu immediately
before or after your vaccination, you or your child could still develop the illness.

The vaccine will not protect you or your child against the common cold, even though some of the
symptoms are similar to flu, but normally less severe.

Why should I consider getting the flu vaccine?

Vaccination is the best defence against the flu. The flu vaccine stimulates the body to make
antibodies, which fight the influenza virus. If you have been vaccinated, when you encounter the
virus, your body is better prepared to destroy it, which helps prevent getting the flu.

When should I get vaccinated?

The best time for you to be vaccinated against the flu is Autumn before the flu season starts.

Is there a delay between when I receive the flu vaccine, and when it starts to work?

The body creates antibodies between three and fourteen days after the vaccination.

How long does the vaccine last for?

The flu vaccine is designed to protect you for approximately one year. With each season, and
sometimes even within the same year, there can be different flu strains so annual and continued
vaccinations are recommended.

Are there any side effects?

The skin around the vaccination site may become red or sore, or you may also experience itching,
bruising or mild swelling. Some people may also experience a mild fever, muscle aches, headache, or
swelling of the lymph gland (under the armpit). These symptoms usually resolve within two days but
if you have any concerns, please speak to your Pharmacist or Healthcare Professional.
In some instances, there may also be a risk of other effects such as fainting. If you have ever had
Guillain-Barre syndrome, there may be a risk of neurological symptoms. If either of these are
relevant for you, please inform your Pharmacist before administering your vaccine.

Can everyone have the vaccine?

Patients should not have the flu vaccine if there is a known allergy to eggs or chicken feathers, or if
they’ve had a known allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past. If you or your child have an illness
with a high temperature or acute infection, the vaccination shall be postponed until after recovery.

What aftercare is involved?

We recommend that you remain in store, or nearby, for 15 minutes after receiving your vaccination
so that the Pharmacist can monitor any reactions, and answer any queries or concerns you may

Is there an age limit on receiving the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is available to patients of all ages and is recommended especially for those who have
a high risk of contracting the flu. People most at risk include the elderly, frail, pregnant or chronically
ill and children under the age of 2.

I’m pregnant…can I get the flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines can be used in all stages of pregnancy and is safe for use during breast feeding. Larger
datasets on safety are available for the second and third trimester, compared with the first
trimester; however, data from worldwide use of flu vaccines do not indicate that the vaccine would
have harmful effects on the pregnancy or the baby.

You doctor/pharmacist will be able to decide if you should receive the flu vaccine. Always ask your
doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking any medicine
Do I need a prescription to get the flu vaccine?
No, a script is not needed.

Your flu vaccine is available from your nearest Local Choice Pharmacy at R79.95 – get your flu
vaccine before the flu gets you!